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Adam Cairns



the poet

Based in South Wales, Adam Cairns is a poet and a photographer whose poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies including Green Ink Poetry, Poetry Wales and The Ekphrastic Review. He's currently studying for an MA in Poetry Writing with the Poetry School and Newcastle University, and runs poetry workshops for the RSPB at the Newport Wetlands Centre.

the poems


00:00 / 01:31

    My sister calls, says there's something she's found I need to see— 

                   can a wound be buried in the blood

                                   could a faint trace

    of the trench he died in linger, ramped into an impression—

                   a patch of green barley 

                                   the farmer leaves—

    she shows me the album, the whole brown and white of him—

                   dark eyes boring through 

                                    the century 

    between us, that ridge above his nose, familiar—I take the photo 

                   to a mirror, hold it up looking back 

                                    at myself. 

    I tuck the photo in my pocket, climb up Gray Hill to find 

                   where the forest crouches,

                                    my home hidden 

    in the play of hills and there, beyond the frown lines of spruce,

                   the moraine of stumps, a first go

                                    at bracken, I see 

    they have planted trees, row after row of plastic-wrapped saplings 

                   shining in cold air, white as graves

                                    at Neuve-Chapelle

    each casting a small shadow—and looking back, the path ducks inside 

                   the shelter of archaic trees, the last 

                                    of the sky going out

                                            my visible breath, the ghost of everyone there.

Last year the apple
tree smouldered

00:00 / 00:52

                                    hidden wires 

                                       from its roots

                                    charging limbs

                                    with sparks 

                                       of blossom.

                                    All summer 

                                    bees droned

                                       in sheaths 

                                    of nectar and we

                                    leant together

                                       in deckchairs


                                    But this year 

                                       came a cold spring 

                                    and though 

                                    frail blossoms 

                                       opened a promise 

                                    of coupling

                                    and sap 

                                       within the flex 

                                    of boughs 


                                       in traceries 

                                    of twigs 

                                    the flowering


                                    After you left

                                    ice sugared

                                       every petal

                                    with a touch


                                    of death

                                       so there are few 

                                    fruit this autumn


                                    the tree alone

                                       with its leaves 


                                    Only last summer

                                       there was still time 

                                    for everything


00:00 / 00:46

                                     sadness sweeps 

                                        the boundary clear—

                                     lines of impeccable spruce 

                                     a touch of sharpness 

                                        in beech and ash— 

                                     an old man I saw 

                                     fifteen years ahead

                                        all this loneliness

                                     shadowing me 

                                     the clatter of family 

                                        I gave away easily

                                     a balloon wind-snatched 

                                     from my five-year-old hand 

                                        floating off

                                     and unable to trace 

                                     a route back 

                                        to my hand 

                                     letting go 

                                     the crumpled

                                       gaudy tin-foil 

                                     of what we had 


                                         all the air inside 

                                     long since voided

Publishing credits

All poems: exclusive first publication by iamb


S h a r e

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